Revolution within the walls
A few years ago I took a class in college that shattered every Bible study paradigm I ever had. I’m serious—by the end of the course, the pages of my Bible were wrinkled, covered with notes only I could comprehend, and stained with yellow and pink highlighter. Someone had shown me what was hidden beneath these ancient words and I wanted to dig further. The clincher? Only a few chapters into the Book of Acts and I had already learned more about the nature of authentic church community than 22 years in “real church” had shown me.
In fact, by the time I shut my Bible, I came to a startling realization: It seemed this alleged revolution that’s been so heavily marketed all over current Christendom didn’t start with a cool logo reminiscent of Che Guevara or during a hyped up youth councils the year before. Rather, it began when men like Paul and Silas traveled by foot from town to town in pursuit of ears that were eager to hear this message: Jesus Christ is the Messiah. The foundation of this revolution was laid in the early church, some 2,000 years ago.
You see, the Greeks and Jews had it down. Everyone knew that prior to Pentecost, these two groups had little to do with each other. In fact, all throughout the remainder of the New Testament we hear about the little quarrels that took place. Circumcised, uncircumcised. Clean, unclean. Meat or garden burger. The Mosaic Law was still the center of all piety and righteousness. Then Jesus came and shook things up. No longer was it about doing, but about believing and being: 1) Believe that Christ redeemed both male and female, Jew and Greek with the same blood and same intention. 2) Be his. Always. Follow him. Always.
So what’s happened? The stuff our predecessors fought about parallels what we as Christians face today. You’ve got plenty to say about the girl sitting in the back pew, tattooed, pierced, and wearing fish-net hose with her mini-skirt, but when it comes to sharing the gospel with your closest friends at school, forget it. You say it’s so hard, and that there are too many areas in your life where Satan has a stronghold. Quit giving him so much credit. Might I suggest that this revolution’s greatest enemy isn’t Satan himself? Rather, it is the ongoing crisis of what has become of the church. There hasn’t been revolution within the walls.
Quit griping about “that guy” in songsters who’s only there to impress the girl you’re after. Stop slandering your youth leader because he puts it to you straight rather than letting you live in sin. Quit over-committing yourself to your corps so you can bulk up your extracurricular resumé when you can’t even commit yourself to Christ and your relationship with him. If I were a preacher, I would get pretty peeved at my congregation if they filled the pews every week only to walk away with ears that never hear, hands that never do, feet that never move, and mouths that only speak ill of one another.
When the Grecian Jews started bad-mouthing the Hebraic Jews because their widows weren’t getting fed, the church didn’t fall apart (Acts 6). The apostles quickly recognized the problem, looked for more Spirit-filled leaders, saw that the Word was never neglected, and that the widows were fed. Got an issue with someone in your church? Get some guts and talk to them. Revolution must begin within the walls before we take it to the streets.
Here’s the timeline: Revolution began when Christ’s hands were nailed to the cross as a ransom for your life. Revolution continued when the earth shook and our risen Savior showed himself to his disciples. Revolution advanced when sons and daughters prophesied and young men had visions and their numbers grew by the thousands…daily (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17-19). Revolution traveled throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth as Christ’s followers abandoned everything to share the salvation story.
You want to start a Holy War? You ready to bring it to your community and preach the Good News? You lookin’ to get all stirred up in the Spirit, hands up, bumpin’ a little Kirk Franklin in your car? That’s great. Do it in the walls. That’s where this mighty revolution is begging to begin.
I echo gospel artist, Kirk Franklin, on this one: I’m sick and tired of the church talkin’ religion, but yet we talk about each other. Make a decision.*
Go on. Be revolutionary—from the inside, out.
* The Nu Nation Project. Copyright 1998, Word Music, Inc. Rodney Jerkins/Kirk Franklin